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It's Not Just Hunters Who Can Take Home Venison

The first weekend of the Illinois firearm deer hunting season is under way. But licensed hunters aren’t the only people who can take home some venison.

In Illinois, you can legally claim a deer accidentally killed by a motor vehicle, under certain circumstances.

  • First, the driver of the vehicle that hit the deer has first claim on the carcass.
  • Second, only Illinois residents can claim a deer killed by a vehicle.
  • Third, you must report the accident to the appropriate police agency and the deer fatality to the Illinois Department of Natural Resources.
  • Last but not least, you must not be delinquent on child-support payments to claim the deer.

There is no limit to the number of such deer that you can possess.
The Illinois Department of Transportation reports that there are between 17,000 and 19,000 deer-vehicle accidents within the state each year.

About three quarters of them occur on rural roads, and more than 70 percent occur at twilight or later.

IDOT offers a number of suggestions to avoid hitting deer while you are driving, including:

  • Be particularly cautious at dusk and dawn, when deer are most active.
  • Keep track of locations where deer have been spotted in the past to avoid being surprised.
  • Reduce speed and be prepared to stop, especially near water, farm fields and wooded areas.

The first portion of the seven-day firearm deer-hunting season ends Sunday. The four-day closing session runs Dec. 3 through 6.